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Can't cook, won't cook: A review of cooking skills and their relevance to health promotion

Caraher, M. & Lang, T. (1999). Can't cook, won't cook: A review of cooking skills and their relevance to health promotion. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 37(3), pp. 89-100.


This paper explores the relevance of cooking skills to modern living and health promotion practices. Drawing on UK data and particularly the 1993 English Health and Lifestyles Survey but in terms common to many Western economies, the paper explores the health education implications of the possible demise of cooking skills. The paradox of low skills and confidence alongside high interest in food is explored. The evidence linking cooking skills to health is explored. A schema of different policy and theoretical perspectives on the teaching of cooking skills is outlined. Although even within the UK there is variation in educational practice, a case is made for the inclusion of cooking skills within a co-ordinated health promotion approach, based on a health development framework. Cooking classes or some practical aspect of ‘hands-on’ skills could feature in a young person’s curriculum at some stage at school as part of a wider education about life skills and citizenship. There is little point in purveying nutrition advice about healthy eating if people lack the skills to implement it. Equally, it is insensitive to target cooking skills only at females or certain socio-economic groups as a form of remedial education. Changes in the role of cooking within culture illustrates wider social changes in which health can too easily be marginal.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Cooking skills, health promotion, policy, healthy eating
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management > Food Policy
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